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Best lens for close up sports photography

28 Jul 2006 1:49PM
I have been given the opportunity to photograph an ice hockey team during their matches. Can someone advise me as to what would be the best focal length/range for getting good close up shots from a few feet up to 100ft away.

Thanks for any help or advice.


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strawman 13 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
28 Jul 2006 2:20PM
Not done Ice hocky, but for football if you can get to the side of a pitch, 50-200mm covers most of the action on a crop camera, with an occasional excursion up to about 400mm for close up on faces from a distance.

But, Ice hockey sounds like indoors to me, and that suggests low light levels and artificial light. So you will want as fast a lens as possible, and you will want to run as high ISO as possible to keep the shutter speed up and if you use digital use RAW to get the white balance fixed afterwards.

So lenses a 70-200 f2.8 would be good, as would a couple of fast primes, 50mm f1.8 and a 28mm for some wide shots, and perhaps a good 300mm or 400mm prime.
wotashot 13 2.2k
28 Jul 2006 2:26PM
I've never shot Ice Hockey - but I know a man that has and he swears by a 70-200 f2.8

I have however shot indoor volleyball, fast glass is essential. Primes (while excellent for sharpness and quality) aren't all that practical without a zoom on a second body. I would go for a 70-200 f2.8 or a 300mm f2.8 (not on its own though!). Anything with a narrower apperture and you'll struggle to focus and blur lots of shots.


28 Jul 2006 3:36PM
That's great, thanks for your help. I've had a look through the gallery and on deviantart as well and most of the sports photography seems to use a 70-200mm.

Strawman/wotashot (or anyone else) what can you explain what a prime is and what would be considered fast and also what you meant by a crop camera?

Thanks again for your help.
tepot 13 4.4k United Kingdom
28 Jul 2006 3:52PM
i would certainly go with the 70-200 f2.8 because of the low light levels you may experience indoors.
Superficial 11 147
28 Jul 2006 4:02PM

Quote:Strawman/wotashot (or anyone else) what can you explain what a prime is and what would be considered fast and also what you meant by a crop camera?

Fast = large max aperture (small f number) so it lets more light in and therefore allows a faster shutter speed.

Crop camera is basically any budget SLR whose sensor does not use the full size of the lens, but I will let you google that - there's no point me trying to explain here.

Prime = not a zoom.
strawman 13 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
29 Jul 2006 9:32PM

Quote:Crop camera is basically any budget SLR whose sensor does not use the full size of the lens

Ooh owners of pro Nikon digital cameras may take you to task on that.

As has been pointed out a prime lens is a fixed focal length lens.

Good luck with your event.
Carabosse Plus
14 40.9k 269 England
29 Jul 2006 10:23PM
Yes the 2500 Nikon D2X is a budget 'crop' DSLR - for those with a fair sized budget! Lol! Grin
joewarner 11 6
29 Jul 2006 11:11PM
Canon 200mm 1.8 would do the trick, + a 1.4 extender if neededSmile
klewis 13 1.9k 1 United Kingdom
30 Jul 2006 10:42AM
Am I allowed to drool over the Canon 200mm f1.8 lens? The sharpest lens in the world and they stopped making it Sad
ZenTog 15 7.9k 1 England
30 Jul 2006 10:56AM
200 1.8 very nice and very expensive , if you can find one to buy, probally outside the budget of an am and most pros.
go for a 70-200 2.8 IS model. forget the 1.4 for now as you are going to need every stop of light you can gather. so the 2.8 aperture of this lens will be the best bet, its also very sharp and one of the fastest lenses focus wise
croberts 13 2.2k 8 Ireland
30 Jul 2006 11:23AM
100mm f2. really fast focussing, nice and bright, and nice and light, and nice and cheap. :o) class lens for indoor sport. or the 135mm f2 L, if your feeling flush.

there is also the 200mm 2.8L, another great lens at a great price.

if you went with the 100 f2, then Just sit as close as you can, to the goal that your home team are shooting into, then you'll get faces as they race towards you, trying to score.

Unless the pics will need to be printed large, you can just crop into the shots that are further away.
31 Jul 2006 1:48PM
Thanks for everyone's help with this.

Most of the shots should be within 20 meters and it's about 30 meters to the half way line, do you think a 100mm lens will be enough to cope with this? Hopefully I should be free to move around so I should be able to get shots of the home team keeper that way but otherwise it'll be 60 meters to the other end of the rink so I'm guessing there wont be much detail if I used a 100mm lens from that distance but would that be ok for subject up to 30 meters away?

Also can anyone offer advice on a 2x converter, what is the quality of the pictures if I would attach one to a 100mm lens to extend it to 200mm, does the quality suffer a lot?

Thanks again for all the help, it's a lot more than you get from most other sites.
stevebostock 11 244 England
31 Jul 2006 2:15PM
for daylight work i get away with using a 100-400 on a 20D and a 28-105 on a 300D (till i can get another 20 / 30)
but it does cause issues under low light / floodlights

I would certainly look at the 70-200

the 28-105 with the extender on is not bad but the aperture loss for the extender is the killer, you really need the quick aperture under floodlights.

with the 70-200 and a 2x you'd be looking at F4 constant which may just be enough, at high iso, to get the job done, cheaper than a big prime and more versatile but at the expense of speed and quality i suspect
my 2p worth
3 Aug 2006 4:19PM
Everyone's help has been amazing, thank you so much.

I wanted to ask advice about exposure and photo's on the ice and have opened up a thread in the 'Taking Photos' section as it's probably more relevant there, if it's not too cheeky to ask for even more advice from everyone would they be able to visit the thread there to help.

Thank you all again.


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